Waking the Invisible…with Jack Gilbert

Waking at Night

The blue river is gray at morning

and evening.  There is twilight

at dawn and dusk.  I lie in the dark

wondering if this quiet in me now

is a beginning or an end.

.

Cherishing What Isn’t

Ah, you three women whom I have loved in this

long life, along with the few others.

And the four I may have loved, or stopped short

of loving.  I wander through these woods

making songs of you.  Some of regret, some

of longing, and a terrible one of death.

I carry the privacy of your bodies

and hearts in me.  The shameful ardor

and the shameless intimacy, the secret kinds

of happiness and the walled-up childhoods.

I carol loudly of you among trees emptied

of winter and rejoice quietly in summer.

A score of women if you count love both large

and small, real ones that were brief

and those that lasted.  Gentle love and some

almost like an animal with its prey.

What is left is what’s alive in me.  The failing

of your beauty and its remaining.

You are like countries in which my love

took place.  Like a bell in the trees

that makes your music in each wind that moves.

A music composed of what you have forgotten.

That will end with my ending.

.

Suddenly Adult

The train’s stopping wakes me.

Weeds in the gully are white

with the year’s first snow.

A lighted train goes

slowly past absolutely empty.

Also going to Fukuoka.

I feel around in myself

to see if I mind.  Maybe

I am lonely.  It is hard

to know.  It could be

hidden in familiarity.

.

To Know the Invisible

The Americans tried and tried to see

the invisible Indians in the deeper jungle

of Brazil.  They waited for months,

maybe for years.  Until a knife and a pot

disappeared.  They put out other things

and some of those vanished.  Then one morning

there was a jungle offering sitting on the ground.

Gradually they began to know the invisible

by the jungle’s choices.  Even when nothing

replaced the gifts, it was a kind of seeing.

Like the woman you camp outside of, at the five portals.

Attending the conduits that tunnel from the apparatus

down to the capital of her.  Through the body

and its weather, to the mind and heart, to the spirit

beyond.  To the mystery.  And gradually to the ghosts

coming and leaving.  To the difference between

the nightingale and the Japanese nightingale

which is not a nightingale.  Getting lost in the treachery

of language, waylaid by the rain dancing its pavane

in the bruised light of winter afternoons.

By the flesh, luminous and transparent in the silent

clearing of her.  Love as two spirits flickering

at the edge of meeting.  An apartment on the third

floor without an elevator, white walls and almost

no furniture.  Water seen through pine trees.

Love like the smell of basil.  Richness beyond

anyone’s ability to cope with.  The way love is after fifty.

– Jack Gilbert, The Dance Most of All

Jack Gilbert

 

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Subject to Change

Mail carrier logo

I am become a Rural Carrier Associate for the U.S. Postal Service.

I pursued employment with the USPS thinking it might provide some security of longevity, tradition (over 200 years of continuous service, public benefit, innovation and survival), government benefits and programs…a service and income that might meet the needs my children and I have developed for something like stability and sustenance.

I was wrong about most of those things.

I’m almost guaranteed one day of work a week (or whenever the regular carrier is unable to work) – no benefits, guaranteed abuse and damage to our one essential family vehicle, grave limitations on supplemental work (not supposed to seek employment with anyone that is a client of USPS – in other words, anyone that purchases postage – greatly delimiting the options / NOR taking any work between the hours of 6 AM and 6 PM when I might be needed to fill in) – and, a grand service NOT supported or secured by the US Government since 1970 (no tax dollars toward USPS!).

On the other hand.  It clearly satisfies core ethics and values I have carried through my entire life and its pursuits –  Meaning.  Relationships.  Communication.  Tangible Information.  The Betweens:

Music.  Poetry.  Religion.  Philosophy.  Psychology.  Bookselling (bibliotherapy).  Marriages.  Research and reference.  Parenting.  Writing.  Anthropology.  Semiotics.  Neuroscience.  Embodiment.  Systems Theory.  Language.  Ekphrasis.  Communications.  Information Science…

what (it seems) has fueled them all has been a passion, fascination, curiosity and intense desire to search into, understand, sense

HOW HUMAN BEINGS MAKE AND SHARE MEANING

            NOW:  I’m a tangible link in the chain.  A node or circuit in the web of transmission.

 

Divorce summons, a lover’s plaint, news of a long-lost classmate or childhood friend, money for a meal, Christmas gifts for grandchildren, links between parents and children, carrier of bills and obligations that alter our lives – invitations to weddings, announcements of deaths, retirements, coupons and births, biological specimens and literary manuscripts, art works, seeds, music, books, clothes and toys…

from here to there, there to here

how often I have rushed to the mailbox,

how often I have posted letters,

how often the holding of a living personal document has made a difference in my life…

 

These are what I think of as I dig through bins, collocate numbers, sort and file, casing mail, and rattle and drag my way through any weather, mood or condition to securely, confidentially and certainly deliver the mail…

In a great meanwhile…

…after three years working from home like a dream – researching, academics, creative writing and art-making; love with a tremendous spouse, and a generous and flexible availability to my amazing children…

it is now turning into months of spouse-lessness, unemployment, harried by survival efforts, sustenance, hours upon hours of therapy, grief, anger, puzzlement, bewilderment, and wonder…

CHANGE

A sustained period of invaluable interactions and dad-ness will be swallowed up bouncing wash-boarded gravelly roads placing packages and envelopes in sturdy boxes of farms.  Fighting for moments with children, opportunities to claim that I am here for them.  To study.  To write.  To read or rest or be…to grocery and launder, housekeep, to play.

Relocating yet again a sense of home.

            For our part – four kiddos, their mothers (and their partner/spouses) and I (and mine) – we have survived, adapted, adjusted and altered much in the past two decades.  Time/little time, retail/academia/schlepping/poverty/art – proven resilient, pliable, innovative, possible – committed or interdependent on one another and have formed and become, ached and angered, wept and worried, laughed and lost, suffered and rejoiced and survived and thrived…

continued…(“I can’t go on.  I’ll go on.”)

and we’re a pretty wonderful, remarkable, heart-stopping, difficult bunch!

 

A biological, literate, artistic, psychological, cultural, spiritual, relational, musical, playful, emotional, terrified, successful, wounded, smart, creative, clinical, authentic, unusual, “awkward,” bunch of “weirdies” (kids’ favorite terms)

and I hope and I trust

SURE OF ONE ANOTHER

…ever subject to change…

but together.

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